Posts Tagged ‘Wild’

It’s time to repay our debt to Haiti

February 11, 2010

There was an earthquake in Haiti and I took it personally.

I took it personally because while I know that earthquakes are naturally occurring events – Mother Nature stretching, tumbling and turning, aren’t they? – I knew that her mischief would provide the world yet more reasons and information to pity the Island of Mountains’ much-maligned inhabitants.

I did not have long to wait for proof of my “prophecy,” and that is not counting that famous/infamous “man of the cloth’s” proclamation of how this disaster was merely punishment from God for the Haitian people’s “pact with the devil” in exchange for their freedom.

My parents are from Jamaica, Haiti’s island neighbor directly west. Watching the aftermath of the quake news with my sons, I saw myself in the faces of the Haitian people. I saw my mother, my father, my sisters and brothers, my family. I saw my humanity and I felt exposed, helpless, defensive and increasingly angry as I recognized that many others of us would not, could not, see what I saw.

How many of us know anything about Haiti other than that it once was a colony of France and is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere?

Did you know that Haiti was the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere, and the second republic, after the United States?

How many of us know the rich, troubled but true, history of Haiti? How many of us understand the role of America, Britain, Spain and France in the rise, fall and suppression of Haiti and its populace?

The African ancestors of today’s Haitians rebelled against slavery, fighting a 12-year war from 1791 to 1803, (aided by both Britain and Spain), against the French colonists and Napoleon’s army. Gen. Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared their independence on Jan. 1, 1804.

How many know that in 1801 Pres. Thomas Jefferson reversed U.S. policy toward Haiti, secretly giving France permission to reconquer the island? France failed.

How many of us can imagine securing one’s freedom only to be re-enslaved, but this time your master is not man, but money? Imagine having to pay your former master for the loss of his property, namely yourself.

France did not recognize Haiti’s independence until 1825 and only then in exchange for a financial indemnity of 150 million francs. Haiti was considered “persona non grata” by other slaveholding nations for fear its success would incite and inspire their slaves to resist. It did.

Britain abolished legalized slavery in 1807 followed by a succession of other European nations. America denounced it finally in 1865.

Did you know the Haitian resistance was the catalyst for France selling the United States its claim to Louisiana – the Louisiana Purchase – in 1803?

Haiti was forced over the years (and continues to be, sometimes it appears, by Mother Nature) to take out loans of 70 million francs to repay this indemnity and gain international recognition. As recently as 2003, Haiti disseminated repayments on international debt totaling approximately $1 million dollars per week.

I do not claim to know what is in your mind, nor your heart. I do know, however, that information, or lack thereof, can taint our benevolence, our love, which is our energy. That universal energy that we all are made of; that we all are exchanging whether we know it or not; that energy that is our currency, our most valuable resource. I know that this energy can be toxin or tonic; it can hinder or heal.

I believe truth can transmute toxin to tonic. My hope is that the foregoing truth can help you, too, see your humanity in the faces of the Haitian people (ultimately all people) so we may all bestow upon them, not pity for the benighted, but compassion for our kin.

The Haitian people, a mighty, resourceful, fiercely independent but long-oppressed people need our energy. Send money if you can. Remember though, there is healing currency aplenty inside each one of us. I believe a little truth in information can set it free.

Sharon Martini is an English “mummy.” She lives in the Bridlemile neighborhood with her two sons, several pets. A local singer and actress, she also writes and illustrates little picture books.

This article originally appeared in the February, 2010, edition of The Southwest Community Connection Newspaper

Where I am from

January 22, 2010

I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from sorrow and sadness and survival and shame
I am from whippings and welts and wounds and weeping
I am from broken promises and pride and palpable pain
I am from struggle and survival and assimilation and success
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from unresolved grief and joy and untruths and blind rage
I am from maligned myths and mutilated memories and hunger and hurt
I am from detachment and deception and disappointment and dreams
I am from learned malaproprism and miseducation and petrified hearts
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from imposed schizophrenia and divinity denied
I am from beatings and bashings and banishment and betrayal
I am from coughed up colonialism and regurgitated rhetoric
I am from misappropriated majesty and ingested iniquity
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from laughter and distrust and religious oppression
I am from the fable of good versus evil and heaven and hell
I am from serpents and mermaids and magic and melanin
I am from stolen stories and language and lineage and lore
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from fear and forgotten and humanity hindered
I am from rehabilitated human relics reassembled all wrong
I am from beauty and darkness and inviolate inner strength
I am from currency corruption and conquest and con
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing

I am from ancestors restless and whispering wisdom
I am from ancestors uprising and possessing and guiding
I am from singing and dancing and sunshine and healing
I am from love

Bringing out our inner children, for better or for worse

October 11, 2009

A friend’s son was killed last month in Washington, D.C.

Reading his obituary, navigating the list of his accomplishments, awards and successes, the line that resonated most with me was: “He was a rambunctious toddler, known to run down the street in just a diaper.” It made me smile. I chuckled as I pictured a spirited, independent bundle of life, tearing down the road with mortified adults trundling after him.

The other morning, I dropped my son, Malik, off at the bus stop. A young girl, somebody’s daughter, sat on the sidewalk smoking, surreptitiously, a cigarette.

I enquired rhetorically of my son: “Is that little girl smoking?” I had seen quite clearly the curly, acrid, plume of fume.

“Yep. Bye, mom. Love you.” He dashed from the car, secretly hoping his mother wouldn’t say anything but knowing in his heart I would.

Bidding him farewell I drove forward stopping beside the “little puffing princess,” and enquired: “What grade are you in?”

She lifted her head, turned toward me, hesitated, then, finally lifting her eyes, she replied: “Seventh.”

“Why are you smoking?” I questioned. “It will kill you.”

“I know,” she resolutely replied.

“You need to stop.” I told her.

As I maneuvered my car to return home, something about our brief interaction yanked at my heart. There was a sadness, resignation and futility dancing devilishly in her demeanor and I found myself needing this child to know I cared about her; that my comments, or as she might see it, interference, were not merely to chastise her, but stemmed from love.

Traveling back now, I wound down my window. Malik, seeing this, lowered his head, smirking. “Oh, no, not again, mum!” I imagined him saying. A classmate standing next to him watched me, curiosity spreading across her face.

I pulled up next to the young girl telling her: “I say this because I care.” She stared at me incredulously.

“Smoking is so dangerous for you,” I admonished. “It will kill you.

“You need to stop,” I implored. She replied flatly: “I know.”

Driving away I wondered whether her insipid response referred to the fact that she knew she needed to stop, or that smoking would kill her.

The girl sitting on the sidewalk was obviously a physically mature teenager, but I plainly “saw” a little girl. I saw her inner child locked away in a dungeon. The dungeon that childhood has become in our competitive world, (and being driven ever more so by our crumbling economy), in which children must prematurely shed their childish proclivities so as to be able to compete, to attain worth, acceptance, and recognized success. I saw a little girl begging to be set free, to be seen, listened to, but who instead, in defiance, took up the fine art of smoking – a well-documented death-inducing device, a taker of lungs, liberty and life. All in an attempt to defy the restraints of this, our modern-day, hurry-and-grow-up living, and wrest back some control.

And it made me think of my friend’s son, Salim, running unrestrained down the street. And I remembered that I once knew a fearless girl whom, decades ago, overjoyed with the spirit of Christmas, opened everyone’s presents, then danced in celebration outside in the freezing wee hours, dressed in rubber boots and a nightie, with only the moon and stars for company. And I laughed out loud.

I have always believed we must hang onto our inner child, (those little girls and boys that live within us), for when we do we are more apt to let life lead us everywhere. It is with this inner child – our organic form, the “rough in the diamond” that we all inherently are – where we breathe our deepest, run our fastest and shine our brightest.

So, little puffing princess, (you know who you are), I see you. I see your inner child and I dare you to snuff out your cigarette and reclaim her. What does she love to do? Bring her back to life, liberation and love. I hope to see you there. I’ll be the one dancing in the dark in rubber boots.

This article originally appeared in the October, 2009 edition of The Southwest Community Connection Newspaper.

What did you love to do as a child? What would you dare to do today, whatever your age, if your inner child were let loose?

Love sometimes means letting go

September 11, 2009

I love to watch my sons play soccer. It’s exhilarating observing their finesse on the field as they charge around like wild mustang in focused abandon. Their skillful control of their feet and the ball conjures images of graceful gazelles darting through the African savannah.

On a recent Saturday morning, I was watching my son Moses’ Westside Metro team, called “Revolution,” play. It was a sensational game of fast, intelligent soccer, the boys passing and juggling the ball, dancing, almost, in harmony. Then, Moses went down, hard, and so did my heart – dropped right out of me, taking my breath with it.

I stood frozen in fear as Moses lay writhing on the turf in obvious pain.

The black panther, or mother lion, in me bared teeth and prepared to pounce, wanting desperately to retrieve him, carry him off to the safety of shelter and lick his wounds all better. But, the all-too-human Sharon in me, sensitive to the feelings of a 13-year-old classic soccer-playing youth, squelched the big cat’s roar and stayed put.

I willed steel pins through the soles of my feet pinioning me. I didn’t trust myself to not shape shift and spring free without them. And then I silently begged for divine intervention.

I implored God, Goddess, Universe, any deity who would listen: “Let him be OK. Let him not be badly injured. Please. Please. PLEASE?” I pleaded, chanting in mantra. No response. Moses remained wincing and squirming on the ground.

Fighting desperately to stay put on the sidelines, I dug my conjured steel pins deeper into Mother Earth. Eventually, surrendering, I resigned myself to making bargains with the almighty white, bearded, smiting dude, when Moses rose unsteadily to his feet. My breath returned exultant. But Moses could barely walk. Each belabored step he took trod footprints into my heart.

A soccer field is large but, as I watched Moses limping across the land, a tiny, solitary urchin, it appeared the size of North America. It became increasingly excruciating to watch him shuffle lamely by, pulsing with pride, pain and disappointment. His ambulatory impediment goaded me, daring me to intervene.

Delirious with anxiety, I witnessed a chasm open between my injured offspring and his fellow teammates, and before my eyes, he metamorphosized. It was no longer Moses out there alone in the center of a continent-sized soccer field, it was me. Me, solitary, rejected, ostracized, betrayed, abandoned, an outsider, exposed and vulnerable, all alone in the U. S. of A.

Visually schizophrenic now – one minute it was Moses on the soccer field, the next it was me in America – I couldn’t take it anymore. I was going in to save him. Sod his teenage pride, he’d get over it. He needed me.

Suddenly, an “angel” in chartreuse-colored cleats swooped in, putting his arm around Moses’ shoulder, lifting him off his injured leg, supporting him in his walk off the field. My breath took its leave again. As I struggled to keep my composure, another “angel” swept in supporting Moses from the other side. My heart swelled to bursting. A liberating howl of joy, gratitude, and relief, percolated and boiled over in torrents of tears within me. I exhaled: “Hallelujah!”

Moses’ world was not my world. Moses was part of the team. His teammates cared for him. He was accepted.

Emotionally recalibrated, sensitive again to teenage emotion, I bit down hard on my lower lip. This to prevent creating a noisy, runny-nosed scene that most definitely would have resulted in my being carted off in a straightjacket, thereby terminally embarrassing my son – a crime for which I would never be pardoned. I didn’t try to hide, however, the healing salty tears that trickled from my eyes as I sheepishly confessed to another soccer-mom how the players’ show of unaffected, spontaneous, active love had deeply touched me.

Call me naïve, call me gullible, call me cliché, but I am telling you, standing on the sidelines of a soccer field at the aptly named Powerlines Park, I saw love incarnate.

Sharon Martini is an English “mummy.” She lives in the Bridlemile neighborhood with her two sons and several pets. A local singer and actress, she also writes and illustrates little picture books.

This article originally appeared in the September 2009, edition of The Southwest Community Connection Newspaper.

It’s scary, but true! I think that growth, maturity and liberty is achieved when we can recognize when it is time to, and then, let go.

What I Know

August 19, 2008

Realizing the truth of my marriage, the lies, the deceit, the distance, the loneliness, the darkness; not understanding why I could not be seen, could not be heard. Realizing that I had predicted this place, this time, this experience. I had seen it coming. I had known it. I had called it. I had captured it all in one fleeting, tearful premonition, in the doorway of where one life had to end -for so many, many reasons – and another life had to begin.

I knew then in my bones that even though I had seen the “writing on the walls,” I had to go. I had to leave the claws of an entity that had no wish for my growth, my goodness, my becoming what I was destined to be. One who knew, too, who and what I was. What I am and shall ever be, for that entity was far more destructive and dangerous than that which I was walking toward. And I knew this (but I didn’t know that I knew it until now) and I wept, and I walked, eyes shut tight and holding my breath, into the wilderness that was to be my world until I woke up, exhaled, and began my return to the Wild – my home, my destiny, me.

And I can be there now, freely, truthfully, because I know the loneliness and fear of being lost in the wilderness, running from my tribe, my truth. Running from the howl of the cats, the cries of the ancestors, that have been calling me all of my life. I needed to live this life, spending time alone in the dark to find my way back through life’s labyrinth, scarred, chipped, flawed, but unbent, unbroken and free. 

I know I can do anything. I can surmount anything. I know that I am on top of the world, wherever I AM if I have the courage.